Q: Were you a Steelers fan growing up?**
Pryor:Yeah, absolutely. I'll probably play against guys I looked up to and guys that were role models to me.
Q: What's your first memory of a Steelers player or a Steelers game?
Pryor:I never really went to a Steelers game. I don't like going to games at all – I get bored. I'd rather be going out and playing. It made me itch to go out there. I never really was a big fan of going to games, basketball games, football games. I just remember growing up and being a senior in high school watching Big Ben [Roethlisberger]. That's when he was younger, not to say he's old but watching him, [Troy] Polamalu out there running around, he's doing the same thing he's doing right now. Just watching guys like that. At the end of the day, that was the past, when I was younger and now it's time to go and play against them.
Q: Is it going to be surreal at all going up against those guys?
Pryor: No, not at all. It's just another team, guys that we have to beat.
Q: In the past you've mentioned that basket you take things from players and put them in your own basket. Anything from Big Ben you put in your basket?
Pryor:I haven't really studied him much. I just know he's very big and he's been doing the same things well. You know what I like about him? His pocket awareness. That's something I'm decent at, but he's very comfortable, his awareness is great and I think you're just born with that deal. He's a phenomenal quarterback.
Q: Terrelle, what are your overall impressions of the Steelers defense? What's your first, initial impression?
Pryor:I just know, from knowing Coach [Mike] Tomlin, is tough. That would be my word to describe them.
Q: Terrelle, did you do anything during this break? You didn't go back to quarterback camp or anything like that.
Pryor:I was with Tom [House] up here. We went to a local field out around here in the Oakland area and just cleaned up some stuff. I got better, I can say that. I got better. It was a great time to get some work in, I didn't really get any days off. There's no time to get off anyways, you have to work constantly to improve.
Q: How does that happen with Tom House, does he look at the games you've already played or does he go through the motions and break it down?
Pryor:They watch a lot of stuff and tape a lot of things on TV and they come in with a little script and some paper but we can watch film at home on my wall and check out and watch the stuff. We watched the games, two games, there were some things we had to clean up but there are also things I'm doing very good. Just keep on getting better. it's a process and until it becomes second nature. I'm doing fine but there are some things I need to clean up I started working on when they got here. It was good work.
Q: What's an example of one or two things he might have cleaned up?
Pryor:Balance at the end of my throw, setting my ear back, my right ear behind on my back foot, my right foot to explode. I wasn't exploding as much as I should be. That was the main thing of getting my balance and getting my ear back there all the time, and sitting on the back foot. That was the thing that we really attacked and got better at as that bye week progressed.
Q: Can you feel when that's happening in a game or is that something you need to see on film?
Pryor:Sometimes it's very hard because you have a guy coming through the 'A' gap or the one gap and you don't have time to do that. There's guys right there and you don't have time to move your feet and set to throw. It's more like when the pocket's very clean like that third-and-8 I missed to Denarius [Moore]. That was embarrassing to me and that's something that I have to hit, third-and-8. It was a slant and I missed him a little short. He could have caught the ball, could have made a play, but I have to put it right on him like I did most of the game from the beginning of the first half. That was disappointing when I missed that one. That's something that I looked at and had to clean up because that's something I didn't do. If I mess it up once, I have to clean it up, so it's something I attacked.
Q: How much film work do you do and when you do that studying, do you find they end up adjusting, you see something on film and say, 'That's not what they're doing against me?'
Pryor:Yeah, all the time. KC was pretty plain. They did some things in terms of their packages or their pressures but they did a couple of things different we kind of expected because every other team did the same thing. There are a lot of times they tried to switch it up and do different things, you just have to react and that's what I have to keep getting better at and keep on doing is reacting off what they're showing because I know every single defense that a defense could possibly run. I study a lot and I understand defenses and I just have to react and put it on the field and get those guys the ball, we're doing a good job at it. One thing I think you guys should note is that I pay very close attention to staying on schedule and being ahead of the game in terms of first and second down and understanding to take what they're giving you instead of pressing down the field and getting into a second-and-10, third-and -10. This bye week I'm starting to understand and I've become a better quarterback from that game and the two days that I had with [offensive coordinator] Greg [Olson] and 'Flip' [QBs coach John DeFilippo] really hammered home on situational football and understanding, and I believe I'm a better quarterback, just by sitting in the room with them those two days we had on the bye week. That's something I'm very proud of, that we worked hard on that and I'm getting better at that, situational football is something I'm looking forward to on Sunday so I can see how well I took it in.
Q: I heard an interview with Coach [Jim Tressel] that said you texted on the extreme of being a perfectionist, is that the way you've always been, do you have to sit back and appreciate some of the things you do sometimes?
Pryor:There's a balance I need to start having because I think there are times you have to appreciate progress. If you keep hammering home on yourself like, 'Shoot I should have had that short,' but it was still a completion it's just a negative thought. I have to be very leery and understand and be a little careful with that because your mind is very powerful so I have to understand that. But I also have to have that edge on me that's like, 'Wait, that's not quite how I want it.' But that's what's going to get me to where I want to be and be a very good quarterback in this league. I just have to keep on understanding that I want to keep getting better and be a perfectionist but I still have to have that little on the side that's saying I respect and appreciate the progress I've made. Q: It sounds like you could be getting some help back on the offensive line. Can you talk about the guys that have been there all year and their versatility?
Pryor:It's my job to make guys better and get guys to react and to inspire guys and being a leader. It doesn't matter who's at the line, I have to be better at being a leader and be better at inspiring guys. It doesn't really matter who's up front because I believe in all of them. Some guys may be a little more talented, yes, but I believe in all those guys, and I think they're going to show this Sunday. A lot of those sacks in KC, a lot of them fell on me. I held the ball too long and I didn't throw the ball away. When people see 10 sacks, they say, 'Oh it's Oakland's line,' but I believe eight of them were on me in terms of one time I missed a protection on the first sack. Another time I called the wrong protection, so I have to take some stuff off of them. It's not all on them, I have to inspire those guys and keep on inspiring them and being a leader to them, it's not on those guys who played in the K.C. game. They will be better and I'll be better.
Q: Is it a relief to have 'Wiz' [Stefen Wisniewski] back?
Pryor:Absolutely. There's not really a lot of things I have to worry about in terms of protection because I know 'Wiz' is going to see it, and if he doesn't see something in terms of if a corner blitz comes or a free safety comes down late, I can come up and say something, but I know if it's just in the box 'Wiz' will handle it. I can get back to focusing on the play and focusing on the coverage, so it's going to be a lot easier. Not to say that [Mike] Brisiel or Andre [Gurode] can't do it, because they can. It's a little different when you're not getting a lot of reps and understanding the blitzes and the defenses. They could do it all day in practice but in a game, you're getting different looks and Wiz is on top of that stuff. It's going to be great to see him.
Q: Each step along the way, high school to college, college to the pros, is there anything you're saying, 'Wow this is so much different?'
Pryor:In terms of what?
Q: In terms of pass rush, defenses or just the total game?
Pryor:Oh I thought you were just talking about in general. I was going to say free food. (laughter) Absolutely, the pass rush. The pass rush is phenomenal. You have to get rid of the ball. You have guys on the line of scrimmage, you have [Lamarr] Woodley, and that's the different thing. In terms from college to the NFL, every week you have to worry about someone else. Last week it was Tamba [Hali] and [No.] 50 [Justin Houston], and this week it's a whole different group of guys. Every single week it's a different guy to worry about. In terms of college, we might play one guy this week and the next week is kind of like, 'There's not about to be a lot of pressure this week, their guys aren't that great on the line,' but in the pros it's every single week you're facing guys who can play ball and you have to respect them.
Q: Is that as much mental as it is physical?
Pryor:You have to be mentally on top of your stuff. Coach [Offensive coordinator Greg] Olson calls it briefcase coaches and players. Don't be a briefcase coach and player. That's a guy who after practice and after meetings you just take off and go. You have to stay and spend some extra time on your work and your craft because what it comes down to at the end of the day, there's no replays in the game. It's for real and you'll be looked at how you play and how you overcome stuff in that game at the end of the day. You have to make sure when you go out there on game day that you know what's going to go on.
Q: Do you feel like your decision making process is better than in the past?
Pryor:Absolutely, just being knowledgeable as a quarterback, like I was talking to you guys about being better situation-wise, I'm running the same plays but different formations a lot of times and you're only to keep getting better and better doing the same thing. You're going to understand and be better at it, and at the end of the day, it's going to even a quicker reaction to the play and keep on learning the same stuff protection wise. There's a lot of stuff that goes into understanding and making decisions. I have to make it quick and I'm getting better at that to answer your question.
Q: The Steelers rank sixth in total defense, in the past two weeks what have you seen on film and why have they been better?
Pryor:Better these two weeks?
Q: Better this whole season.
Pryor:Like I said, they have Coach [Dick] Lebeau, great defensive coordinator. Coach [Mike] Tomlin, I know he's preaching to those guys, they have to run, they're the engine, and the defense is their engine. If you can stop and have a pretty good offense, I think they're pretty successful. I think we looked over in the morning today the turnover differential and they won the past two weeks, that probably has something to do with it. I know I have to take care of the ball, that has to be the number one thing and we have to take the ball.
Q: Do you have to take an extra peek at [Troy] Polamalu pre snap?
Pryor:I just have to be ready to hold the snap. He's like Tarzan, jumping all over the place. The guys are going to be on him. 'D-Mac' [Darren McFadden] is going to be scanning, keying him and the fullback's are going to be scanning, keying him so I'm not too worried about where he's at, I know guys are going to be on him. I do need to hold the cadence and just go play ball.